"I can help you!"


I've worked for over 25 years in advertising, promotions and sales, and spent nearly 2 years as a motivational speaker for a major international company. Currently a bestselling novelist and 'shameless' promoter, I've shared my experiences and techniques as a Book Marketing Coach for nearly a decade.

Whether you're published or unpublished, I can help. My last publisher called me a "marketing guru" and "whiz", although I prefer to think of what I do as teaching, or coaching.

"Dare to Dream...and Dream BIG!"

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Nancy Ancowitz shares 10 tips for new and aspiring authors

I want to share some great advice I found in TIPS for WRITERS from the PUBLISHING INSIDER, a newsletter distributed by publishing expert Jerry D. Simmons. Nancy Ancowitz recently blogged on PsychologyToday.com, sharing her tips for new and aspiring authors.

My advice: 10 tips for new and aspiring authors
  1. Purpose. Get clear about why you want to write a book versus an article or something else. Is it to reach more people, build your personal brand, hit the jackpot on the New York Times’s Best Sellers list?
  2.  Money. Determine how you’ll juggle making a living while writing your book. Will you save up plenty of money, go on sabbatical, work part-time—or work full time while writing your manuscript at night and just take catnaps while standing in elevators?
  3. Self-publishing versus conventional publishing. Weigh the pros and cons of self-publishing and e-book publishing versus conventional publishing. If you decide to go the conventional route, find a literary agent who is passionate about your book idea. She will “shop” your manuscript around at publishing houses and help negotiate the best terms for you. For a list of agents, check out theAssociation of Authors’ Representatives; also ask published authors for their recommendations.
  4. Branding. Start building your brand long before your book is published by writing, speaking, using social media tools, organizing and/or joining special interest groups, and spreading the word through your network.
  5. Product. Consider whether you want to offer a product or service in connection with your book. If so, set the wheels in motion now so that when your book comes out, you’ll have more to offer your readers.
  6. Public speakingIf you’re not already comfortable with public speaking, which is an important skill for an author, take a course, hire a coach, join Toastmasters International, and get some practice, even at small, approachable venues. Down the road, closer to the time of your book launch, also consider investing in press training to buff up your skills at answering questions on the spot for media interviews.
  7. Published authors. Meet them. Buy their books and review them on Amazon. Gain from their insights. Build relationships with them and ask for their advice about your book.
  8. Publicity. Save up now to hire a publicist, but don’t rely on him to do all the work. You’re the engine; start building relationships with journalists and organizations where you can speak that are interested in your topic.
  9. Information for authors.Read books, magazines, blogs, social networking sites, and other resources to become an informed author. Check these out: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published by Sheree Bykofsky (whose literary agency represents me) and Jennifer Basye Sander; Poets & Writersmagazine.
  10. Support. Get the support you need to write your book. Join or form a group of other authors, turn to a mentor, hire a coach, start a Meetup or Tweetup, and read, comment, and post questions to authors’ blogs. You’ll benefit from having a community of authors and can learn a lot from one another.
Read Nancy's full post on PsychologyToday.com.

Printed here with permission from Jerry D. Simmons (WritersReaders.com) and Nancy Ancowitz.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Is Your (Internet) Marketing is Paying Off?

So you're out there marketing. You're doing all the right things (or so you think). You're following the book marketing advice of some leaders in the industry. You've got a checklist and you're methodically checking off your goals. But how do you know you're doing everything right? The fact is, most of us don't. Yet we forge ahead, keeping pace with our marketing plan, without ever knowing if it's paying off. We don't see it in sales. Does that mean it's not working? Not at all. You could be seeing the effects in other places but just aren't keeping track of it.

I find that especially in social media you need to keep a close eye on what's working and what's not. If you've spent *any* kind of time online you know that you can be in front of your computer for what seems like 20 minutes and yet three hours have gone by. If the three hours of marketing is paying off, then it's fine to spend the time. But you need to know the difference. Here are a few things you can review to measure the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of your marketing.

1. Jumping in without a plan: Set clear, measureable goals because most marketing is invisible. Let's face it, you send an email and wonder half the time if the intended recipient got it or if it ended up in a spam filter, never to be seen again. That's the power behind goals. You need them and you need to run your campaign by them. So what are your goals? And no, you may not say sell books. Yes, that factors in - but there are a million small steps along the way before you even get to sales. Consider these goals and see if any of them fit your book, topic, and future:

a. Establish yourself as an expert or get known in your particular field. Hey, maybe you just want to be known as the go-to person for everything related to paranormal romance. That's great and it's a realistic, attainable goal.

b. Increase the visibility of your brand. OK, sort of the same as the bullet before this one but more geared to the non-fiction author.

c. Increase traffic and incoming links to your website. This is a great goal. Whether you are fiction or non-fiction, it's a great focus.

d. Do what makes sense for your book: If your followers aren't on Twitter then why have you spent the last month or so promoting yourself on there? Mind you, Twitter works for most of the books we manage, but there are a few that don't make sense. Twitter skews older than most people think so don't be surprised if your YA reader isn't on there. Before you launch head first into a campaign, make sure it fits your demographic.

2. Neglecting other marketing: I know it's easy to get all a-twitter about Twitter, but what else are you doing to promote yourself and your book? If you're good at events and speaking, are you still focused on that? Don't get too myopic on doing just one thing for your marketing. The truth is, you need to do a lot of different things, balanced out over a week or a month for your marketing to really make sense.

3. Set goals - be clear on what you hope to achieve in social media: What are your goals for Twitter? If it's just about gathering followers then you are missing a big piece of this social networking tool. For many marketing people it's all about the number, but numbers don't make as much sense unless they are driving interest to you and your book. If the numbers keep growing, along with traffic to your website, then you're on the right track. But if you're just growing numbers for the sake of being able to say that you have 10,000 followers then it makes no sense. That's like buying a fancy car you can't really afford. Eventually the debt of it will drag you down. It's the same with Twitter and Facebook and any other social media site. It's not about the numbers. It's about the activity.

4. Be clear on who you are trying to reach: Many of you say you're trying to reach readers, but is that really true? We all want to sell books, but who are you really going after? In all likelihood you will have a variety of different targets you are going after. Consider these: booksellers, speaking opportunities, interviews, bulk sale targets, reviewers, and readers to name a few.

5. Measure effectively: In order to know if stuff is working you'll need to measure effectively. As I pointed out earlier on in this article you may not want to do that by fans or followers - instead consider these ideas as ways to measure your success:

a. Retweets on Twitter: The best sign of success on Twitter is the amount of retweets. Are you getting them and if so, how often? If your tweets are good and your followers are active, you should see a few a week at least (depending on the amount of followers you have). If you're curious about the amount of Tweets that get RT'd - check out retweetrank.com. Twitter Analyzer (twitteranalyzer.com) is another great tool for determining how far tweets have traveled.

b. Site hits: Are the hits to your site increasing? Are you watching your analytics to be sure? If you're not, you should be. Watch your site stats closely and monitor the increase in traffic and where it's coming from.

c. Inbound links: How many new ones are you getting? Did you do a vanity search before you started this campaign? If not, do that now. Make sure you know how many new incoming links you're getting as a result of your efforts.

d. Sign-ups to your mailing list: Are they increasing? If you're doing the right stuff in your social media they should be increasing weekly.

6. Increasing the contacts in your industry: Remember that social media marketing is just like going to a networking meeting. You want to expand your reach and get to know others in your industry. If you're not increasing your reach and contact base, then you need to be. This is another great way to gauge how effective your marketing is.

We always want to make progress in our marketing but we're not always sure how to do it or if what we're doing is making a difference. Follow these steps and see if it doesn't help your marketing momentum. If it's paying off, you'll know sooner rather than later and you can keep doing the good stuff, and punt the bad.

Bonus: additional tools for tracking marketing

Bit.ly: This site serves as both a URL shortener and also as a measurement tool. Bit.ly can help get you real-time results on clicks to links you are posting to Facebook and Twitter.

Google Analytics: If you don't have any back end web analytics (and even if you do), Google gives you a lot of valuable data.

Trackur: This is a great monitoring site to see what's being featured on you online and off. It's not free like Google Alerts, but much more comprehensive. Their basic package is $18 a month.

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com

Monday, August 2, 2010

Seasoned publishing expert Jerry D. Simmons advises writers: "Follow your dreams."

Jerry D. Simmons spent twenty-five years as VP of Field Sales with Random House and Time-Warner Book Group before branching off to create his own publishing company, INDI Publishing Group. Widely respected, Jerry is one of my mentors and I had the pleasure of meeting him a few years ago when I visited Valley Forge where we both spoke at a writers' conference.

Here is Jerry's advice to writers:

Merriam Webster defines publishing as: the business or profession of the commercial production and issuance of literature, information, etc. Writers who ask me for advice on the best way to publish their work get the same answer, follow your dreams. Obviously there are tricks to the trade and better ways of making an impression on agents, editors, publishers and even consumers. However the only thing that really matters is that writers follow their dream despite the difficulty.

There are no secrets, regardless of what the master marketers tell you and try to sell you; there are no short cuts to success as an author. If there were a set formula then the biggest publishers would have it figured it out and would be following it with every single title. Following your dream does not mean mortgaging your home or bank account for a chance to publish. Publishing is a business first and creative process second. The business and production side of publishing over shadows the art of creating content. Understanding this fact should be a guide as you decide which route to take.

The more you recognize the terminology and how the basic pieces of the business fit together the better informed you will be and of course the better informed the better chance to recognize the opportunities before you. The one size fits all in publishing does not exist and there are certainly advantages and disadvantages to each type of publishing, including being under contract to a major publisher. The more you read and stay on top of competitive titles in your category, learn the basics of the business, and continue to create content as the same time you are trying to figure it all out the better prepared and positioned you will be. The better prepared and positioned the better chance you have a becoming a successful author.

Printed with permission from Jerry D. Simmons and WritersReaders.com.